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Nonverbal Communication: The Messages of Action, Space, Time and Silence

SCENARIO

Jane was asked to represent her U.S. company at a conference that was to take place in Mexico City. Having just transferred to this Latin American country, she was understandably flattered that her boss would ask her to participate and excited that she would have the opportunity to see the city.

Everything went well, including traveling to the city and checking into the hotel, until the pre-conference cocktail party. At the party, Jane was approached by a young woman executive from a local firm who introduced herself as Dinorah. Immediately upon striking up a conversation, Dinorah began moving closer and closer toward Jane. It seemed that every time Jane moved away, Dinorah moved forward. After some time, Jane found herself against a wall unable to retreat any further. Dinorah kept her close distance. Having experienced enough discomfort, Jane curtly excused herself, returned to her room, and refused to attend future social functions.

QUESTION

How could you best explain this incident?(tip: in Mexican culture). Choose ONE option [clearly indicate Option 1 or Option 2] and explain your answer.

1. It is very unusual in a Latin American country that a woman would be asked to represent her firm. Dinorah resented seeing another woman present and wished to make Jane feel as uncomfortable as possible, hoping she would leave.

2. The comfortable social distance usually kept between two Latin Americans is much closer than that for Americans. Both Jane and Dinorah were seeking a comfortable distance.

Solution Preview

2. Many of Latin cultures prefer a close distance when speaking with others. There is also more eye contact, leaving those without such cultural tendencies to feel uncomfortable, such as Jane did. Jane, was uncomfortable with the closeness and as she moved back, Dinorah would ...

Solution Summary

SCENARIO

Jane was asked to represent her U.S. company at a conference that was to take place in Mexico City. Having just transferred to this Latin American country, she was understandably flattered that her boss would ask her to participate and excited that she would have the opportunity to see the city.

Everything went well, including traveling to the city and checking into the hotel, until the pre-conference cocktail party. At the party, Jane was approached by a young woman executive from a local firm who introduced herself as Dinorah. Immediately upon striking up a conversation, Dinorah began moving closer and closer toward Jane. It seemed that every time Jane moved away, Dinorah moved forward. After some time, Jane found herself against a wall unable to retreat any further. Dinorah kept her close distance. Having experienced enough discomfort, Jane curtly excused herself, returned to her room, and refused to attend future social functions.

QUESTION

How could you best explain this incident?(tip: in Mexican culture). Choose ONE option [clearly indicate Option 1 or Option 2] and explain your answer.

1. It is very unusual in a Latin American country that a woman would be asked to represent her firm. Dinorah resented seeing another woman present and wished to make Jane feel as uncomfortable as possible, hoping she would leave.

2. The comfortable social distance usually kept between two Latin Americans is much closer than that for Americans. Both Jane and Dinorah were seeking a comfortable distance.

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